According to The Independent, Gambia is “gripped by fear as leader scours country in search of witches”. The report continues…
A state-sponsored witch-hunt has begun in Gambia where as many as 1,000 people have been kidnapped from their villages and taken to “secret detention centres” then stripped, beaten and poisoned.
The campaign launched in the tiny West African nation is the latest manifestation of the increasingly brutal and bizarre rule of President Yahya Jammeh, who has claimed he can cure people of Aids. Now the President is thought to believe he is under attack from witches.
Witnesses and victims of the abductions told Amnesty International that the President’s personal guard, along with armed police and intelligence agents have accompanied witch doctors brought in from Guinea to round up suspects. Many of those taken from their homes were elderly people who have then been held for up to five days in appalling conditions, made to drink hallucinogenic concoctions and forced to confess to black magic powers.
I think it is extreme examples like this that test the notion of cultural relativism and find it wanting. What starts out as a discussion about funny hats or which animals are too cute, too sacred or too dirty to eat, inevitably gets bogged down when it comes to human rights. Until we get to this point – where only the insane can argue that if there isn’t some objective standard by which behaviour can be judged wicked and stupid, we shouldn’t assert one of our own.